Madam Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, founder of the Sunhak Peace Prize, Dr. Il Sik Hong, Chair of the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee, Excellencies, honorable delegates, media representatives, ladies and gentlemen, a very good morning.
I feel it an honour and privilege to be selected for the first Sunhak Peace Prize. I am glad that the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee recognizes the importance of food security, environmental integrity and overall socioeconomic development as essential pre-requisites for a peaceful society. This becomes much more important in the present context of increasing global population leading to more demand for food from declining natural resources and the looming impact of global warming threatening the fragile ecosystem and lives and livelihood of large number of people if appropriate actions are not taken. I thank Madam Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for her vision in establishing this award and reminding the global community of the need to act fast for a food secure and peaceful world.
I owe gratitude to a great number of people â€“ the farming community, NGOs, scientists, planners and administrators in different countries where I worked without whose assistance and cooperation it would not have been possible for me to do what I have done. I would be failing in my responsibilities as a husband and father if I do not acknowledge the sacrifices my wife and children have made over the years to enable me to continue my work while living and working in remote areas of least developed and war torn countries in spite of threats to our lives.
The world has made tremendous progress technologically in the last few decades, whether it is in industrial revolution, information technology, rocket technology, space science or agriculture. However, we failed to provide sufficient food to people in this world; because of which we see so much hunger and poverty around the world which is leading to civil strife and food riots. One in three people globally suffer from hidden hunger or micronutrient deficiencies, especially women and children. We have been talking of eliminating hunger and poverty for quite some time, but we have a long way to go to reach our goal. In spite of increased production of food, hunger has remained as a persistent problem for too many of the worldâ€™s poor. Rampant hunger and poverty is leading to a deterioration in democratic institutions and an increase in the incidence of demonstrations, riots and civil conflicts. Personally I have witnessed what hunger means while working in war ravaged countries. Even middle-income countries, despite being more affluent, are still home to majority of worldâ€™s hungry people. We cannot expect peace and tranquility in a world that continues to suffer from hunger and poverty. If appropriate action is not taken, prolonged hunger and undernutrition can have developmental and economic damage for a number of years to come.
For eliminating hunger and malnutrition, we need a new approach of inclusive and sustainable growth that provides livelihood to all and preserves the environment for future generations, leading to a peaceful world. Over 500 million small farms manage most of the worldâ€™s agriculture land, including fish farming, and produce most of the worldâ€™s food. We cannot imagine a situation without them. We need to ensure survival of these farms not just for the people's livelihood and survival, but also for global food security and the alleviation of poverty, under-nourishment and malnutrition. I strongly believe that small farms and farmers in developing countries are the backbone of food security and hence my work over the years has been in this direction, developing low-input, low-cost technologies that could be adopted and sustained by small aquaculture farmers, especially women leading to their empowerment.
This award gives me the added energy to pursue my lifetime goals of contributing toward a peaceful society through alleviation of hunger and poverty.
I pay homage to Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon for the ideals he stood for and his vision of one global peaceful family. Let us all work together to bring his ideals to reality.
Thank you all.